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AMD HTPC/some gaming, other uses $700-$900, first time

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March 12, 2010 5:54:04 AM

This website has taught me so much, but there is still a lot that I don't know and would like some help on.

Goals: I need windows, already have a 4-year-old Macbook that's still going strong for basic personal use, but would be interested in making a hackintosh hard drive on this PC down the road. I would like to play some newer PC games, and would like to be able to run the newest and most demanding emulators as they come out, but I'm not a very serious PC gamer (I play consoles a lot). I would like to use this as an HTPC for TV and also movies; I have a 30-something inch HDTV to hook it up to, and will have a 24" ASUS monitor (up to 1920 x 1080). I'm not concerned with the little things (tuners, etc.) that will allow me to do all this right now, I'm mainly concerned with the major components that will give the computer its power and capabilities.

The most demanding programs I use a lot are music software, such as Ableton Live and Reason. There are various programs that go along with these that enhance them, and currently on my Macbook I have a hard time doing everything I want to at the speed (instant, of course :D  ) that I want to use them at. To help me run these things effortlessly, and also just to have a fast, versatile computer that will last me awhile, I want decent power. I'm not in a hurry to build this, but would like to do it within the next 2 months.

I plan to overclock it up to maybe 3.8 or whatever it can easily handle. There are 3 or 4 fans included with the products listed below, but I if I need to get more for a cooling system, please recommend something.

Do not need: keyboard, speakers, monitor, OS/software, or basically anything besides what will go in the case.

AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor $160
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
This seems like a good mix of price and power, but open to INTEL and everything that goes along with it if it's that much better.

ASUS M4A79XTD EVO AM3 AMD 790X ATX AMD Motherboard $109(after $10 rebate)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
I understand that the 790FX is better, but I'm not exactly sure how it is better and if it is worth the added price for my uses, advice here would be nice.

SAPPHIRE 100245HDMI Radeon HD 4850 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card $95
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
I don't want to spend too much on a video card now, but can add another one of these in CrossFireX if I end up wanting more power. Again, if any good alternatives to this, let me know.

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) $109
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
I was advised that I wouldn't need any more than this unless I do some heavy video manipulation, which I don't do.

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive $89
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
looks fast, and comes with a free external hard drive enclosure.

CORSAIR CMPSU-650TX 650W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready $80 (after $20 rebate)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
I put some generous info on some PSU calculators, and was recommended 600W, so I figured this would be good. Am open to anything, though.

COOLER MASTER RC-690-KKN1-GP Black SECC/ ABS ATX Mid Tower Computer Case $69 (after $10 rebate)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
I really like the style of this case, but am open to anything if it is better and at a good price.

LITE-ON 24X DVD Writer Black SATA Model iHAS424-98 LightScribe Support $32
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total: $746 (after rebates)

Remember, this is the first time I've tried this, so there are probably a lot of little things I'm not understanding. If you can clear something up, please do. I am trying to find a good balance between capability and price, so keep that in mind with your advice. Please tell me if there is anything else I'll need to get this thing up and running. Also, I'm sorry for typing such a long post. I was hoping all this information would help you help me. Thanks. :sol: 
March 12, 2010 6:08:16 AM

More targeted at monster frames for the $$ but perhaps you could swap that HD 5850 if u really aren't too big into gaming hehe Maybe a HD 5770?
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March 12, 2010 6:16:01 AM

Thanks for the reply, I like all of your suggestions. You shaved off money in a lot of areas to free up budget for that bigger video card. I might take bits and pieces from your recommendation because you basically added a lot to my GPU capabilities and didn't sacrifice anything I needed, while keeping the price down. Great suggestions. Would there be anything noticeable I would be sacrificing moving down to the 5770? I don't have any experience with video cards so whatever you know will probably be news to me.
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March 12, 2010 8:24:50 AM

Well the best way to highlight the difference would be to state what games u playing and are u the type to game on native resolution or tone it down? I suspect for a non hardcore/casual gaming the HD 5770 might be the card for you
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March 12, 2010 2:24:04 PM

Yeah I looked into it and it seems like the best option for me. I like that it will last longer in the future with its Directx 11 support, and it definitely will be strong enough for me to do what I want. If I end up wanting something stronger down the road I could hook up another one in Crossfire, so there's some flexibility. With the power supply you listed, there is another combo with a case that is more like the one I originally linked, so I could go with that. You showed me some good stuff, and I think I'll have to get the HD 5770 and downgrade my processor a little bit now so I can spend my money on other things I'll need. Thanks a lot.
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March 12, 2010 2:26:41 PM

You are welcomed - for low cost solutions and indeed more realistic ones single GPU solutions are always best for me By the time your games need CF/SLI the same GPU would have gove E.O.L/no longer in production and a superior/low power single GPU solution would have arrived (w.r.t multi GPU)
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March 12, 2010 2:47:13 PM

Ok that makes sense. I have noticed that when people replace their older crossfire setups with a new single card, they seem to always get better performance out of the newer one, and it usually is cheaper than the combined cost of the previous two.

1 more question for anybody who'd like to answer: do you think the 3.2Ghz is more than I need? If it is more than I need for my uses, I would love to spend a little less on a processor. My only concern is that a lesser processor won't last me as long or won't be as fast for what I would use it for (as described in the first post). I'm learning a lot here, thank you.
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March 12, 2010 2:51:21 PM

For single GPU set ups and with a HD 5770 - if you had to cut $$ for chip the AthlonII X3 630 would be fine
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March 12, 2010 3:56:21 PM

I used a lot of the things you suggested, but kept the motherboard and processor I started with. About $730 after rebates. With the 925 processor it is $715 after rebates. Seems like a good deal.
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March 13, 2010 9:10:49 AM

Hmm those are kindda pricey for 1333/CL8 Rams ^^
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March 17, 2010 1:45:45 AM

You're right, the one you suggested was cheaper. This setup only costs $9.00 shipping, so after the rebate the total is $743. I'm gonna have to go for it. I hope it isn't too hard for me to put together.
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